It’s been as good as three months since my last post. That’s appalling. I could trot out the traditional December cry (‘Where has the year gone?’) as if it’s some huge surprise that it’s December again, even though we all say this every year and I can confidently predict that this time next year we’ll all be plaintively wailing the same thing.
In fact, I know exactly where the year’s gone. It’s been full of work, study, travel, socialising, packing as much activity into each day as possible and collapsing exhausted in front of the TV with a (petite) glass of wine, before catching some sleep and getting up to do it all over again.
It’s been a good year, in the scheme of things. I’ve achieved a lot. On the research front, I’ve completed my required Units of Study, presented my first poster at an international conference, received approval to continue my project as a PhD rather than DSW, and had my proposal accepted without changes. I had hoped to have my ethics application through by now, but that was ahead of my ‘real’ schedule.
And that’s the crux of my problem, I think. I’m ahead of schedule, and instead of capitalising on that, which was my plan, so that I could spend more time on data collection and analysis, I find myself coasting instead of peddling. I’ve set aside two days per week for concentrated effort on study-related tasks, most particularly working towards the ethics application, but as my blog activity attests, I’m not really in the zone. To use the cycling metaphor, my head is replaying a mantra ‘must peddle! must peddle!’ but the necessary adrenalin is not kicking in, and my feet are relaxing happily on the pedals as I drift along with the minimum momentum required for forward movement.
The outside world is not helping, of course – it’s not really my fault. All these Christmas jingles, holiday talk, work-related imperatives (there’s no absence of a sense of urgency there, and work sits crouched and waiting to leap into any distractable ‘study moment’ – especially problematic since this gives a feeling of having achieved something worthy, when it is really just a sophisticated form of procrastination).
What to do? I’ve tried focusing on different spaces for different activities (some success with this), imposing ‘pretend’ deadlines (pfft…my brain knows and is not going to be hoodwinked that easily. I’m still ahead of schedule, after all…) and making a day-by-day, hour-by-hour plan of activities (but I’ll just check my email first…).
So this is a blog post without any real content. It’s just an exercise. Sit down, I told myself, and write a damn blog post. Do it. Now. So I did. And you know what? I think it’s working. I’m at my computer, I’ve written something (sort of), and I’m seeing that zone I need to be in. Perhaps I don’t need a sense of urgency after all – that will come anyway, in due course. Perhaps I need to approach this like a marathon, not a long sprint. After all, I’ve recently proved to myself that if I just roll out of bed at 5.30 and put on my exercise gear without waking up first, I can do a half hour walk before breakfast. I can do this. Who needs urgency anyway – time enough for that later. As the greeting card says (approximately), ‘she who stumbles along is still going faster than the person still sitting on the couch.’